Happy Tax Day, everybody! It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Colorado Democrats are taking the occasion of Tax Day to push legislation that would make it more difficult for politicians like Donald Trump to refuse to release tax returns. As Marianne Goodland writes for the Colorado Independent:
Two days after an estimated 7,000 people took to Denver’s Civic Center Park to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns, a House committee okayed a bill to require presidential candidates to make their returns public.
The measure, which is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Edie Hooten of Boulder and Chris Hansen of Denver, would require both presidential and vice-presidential candidates to submit the most recent five years of tax returns. Those who don’t submit those documents won’t appear on Colorado’s presidential election ballot, under the bill.
At least eight other states are working on similar legislation to require those tax returns, Hooten said; six are states carried by Trump in the 2016 election. In other states, although not Colorado, the legislation is referred to as the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act, or TRUMP Act.
Trump is the first major party candidate in 40 years (since President Gerald Ford ran for election in 1976) to not provide his returns, according to Politifact.
At least a dozen Congressional Republicans also agree that Trump needs to release his tax returns before they will take any sort of action on a Trump tax reform plan.
Meanwhile, the Colorado legislature remains gridlocked over the state budget, with both Democrats and Republicans accusing each other of mucking things up. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 10.
► President Trump is embracing the idea that today’s special election in Georgia could be a referendum on Trump. It’s true that the special election to replace Republican Rep. Tom Price (now President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services) is being watched closely as a sign of how voters are feeling about the first 90-odd days of the Trump administration. But as Chris Cillizza explains, Trump may be getting louder about today’s election because he could be getting word that Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is unlikely to surpass 50% of the vote and thus avoid a runoff election with one of 11 Republican candidates.
► British Prime Minister Theresa May shocked European political observers — and even those in the United States who even sorta understand how the British election system works — by calling a surprise election on June 8. Here’s a helpful summary from CNN about what happened and why it is such a surprise (and why you should care):
British governments generally last for five years, and the Conservative Party’s administration — then led by May’s predecessor David Cameron — was elected in 2015. The next election was not due to take place until May 2020…
…May, who took over when Cameron resigned in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, wants to seek a stronger mandate in Brexit talks.
The UK government formally served divorce papers on the European Union last month, signaling the beginning of the end of a relationship that endured for 44 years.
But her party only has a slim majority in Parliament, and opposition parties have attempted to throw rocks in her path towards Brexit.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► An attorney for infamous right-wing provocateur Alex Jones is making the argument in a Texas courtroom that the “InfoWars” screecher is more “performance artist” than political rabble-rouser. From NBC News:
The Alex Jones who told his legions of “Infowars” listeners that bogus stories about the U.S. government being behind the 9/11 attacks and about Hillary Clinton operating a pedophile ring out of a Washington D.C. pizza joint is really “a performance artist.”
That’s according to Jones’ own lawyer — not the mainstream media that the right-wing radio jock derides as “fake news.”
“He’s playing a character” and is nothing like his online persona, attorney Randall Wilhite reportedly insisted in a Texas courtroom at a pre-trial hearing ahead of the right wing radio jock’s custody battle with ex-wife Kelly Jones.
Judging Jones by his Infowars performances would be like judging Jack Nicholson by his depiction of the Joker on “Batman,” Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo last week, the Austin American-Statesman reported. [Pols emphasis]
This is an important point because Jones has a a large network of right-wing conspiracy-theorist followers who take his rantings as gospel. Jones’ own attorney says that he is just playing a character when he says this stuff; if you take Jones seriously, you’re being played.
► Donald Trump is fundraising at an unprecedented pace for a newly-elected President, and it’s for personal reasons: MILLIONS of dollars are being funneled right back into Trump’s business holdings. Slate follows up on an important Wall Street Journal story from Saturday:
The new reports, filed late Friday with the Federal Election Commission, showed that Mr. Trump’s campaign directed more than 6% of the $6.3 million it spent in the first three months of 2017 to the president’s companies, including $274,013 in rent to Trump Tower, $58,685 for lodging to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., and $13,828 for facility rental and catering to the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
As Slate notes, this is a marked difference from 2009, when Barack Obama focused his time on being President rather than raising money:
More money means more opportunities for Trump to spread the wealth around among his inner circle. In addition to sending campaign cash to Trump companies, he also continues to cut checks to those owned by his friends…
…Several Trump allies with official positions inside the White House saw payouts of their own this year. A company owned by Steve Bannon, for example, received nearly $30,000 for administrative work last quarter, and one founded by White House social media director Dan Scavino received $14,500 in consulting fees.
► Perhaps it is only a matter of time before former Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn starts collecting checks from Donald Trump. Glenn has already convinced a 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate to hire him as a consultant.
► Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is the Brick Tamland of Colorado politics.
► What does Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) really think about President Trump? The answer depends entirely on the audience in front of him.
► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is expressing predictable disappointment over the actions of new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
► What’s next for Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)? Apparently, not “Next.” Kyle Clark of 9News wonders what happened to Buck’s long-scheduled interview with the station:
Congressman Buck’s staff said they couldn’t tell us his reason for cancelling because this is personal business. His publisher is in full control of his schedule, so we’re not sure what Congressman Buck was up to. No need for every Next viewer to turn into a Big Buck Hunter, but if you see him around Colorado, let him know we’d love to talk.
► Former Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch had his first day on the Supreme Court on Monday. As the Denver Post reports, all of the kids were nice to him.
► Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman reports that two Colorado Democrats have been named to some sort of national Kumbaya committee.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► A bill that would allow women in Colorado to get a year’s supply of birth control medication with just one pharmacy visit is headed to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for final approval.
► Observers are worried that federal budget cuts could make it difficult to conduct the annual Census, which is supposed to happen in 2020.
► Why is Tax Day on April 18 this year, instead of the traditional April 15 date? Here’s why.